Advocacy skills, mooting experience and three years of studying law from a critical perspective all helped Kent Law School alumna Ufnaan Shahjahan succeed in securing a scholarship from The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.
Ufnaan, who graduated last summer with a Law LLB degree, has been awarded a Jules Thorn Scholarship worth £9,500. The award will help fund Ufnaan’s studies of the Bar Practice Course which she’ll begin at the Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) in London later this year.
Middle Temple is one of four Inns of Court; the historic societies that educate and train barristers in England and Wales. At Middle Temple, scholarships are awarded on merit after taking into account the candidate’s intellectual ability, motivation to succeed at the Bar, advocacy potential and personal qualities. The amount of the award depends on the scholar’s financial circumstances.
Ufnaan said the structure of her scholarship interview was completely unexpected: ‘I prepared to discuss legal cases or current events and then go on to discuss the particulars of why I want to be a barrister and what will qualify me for the role. In the interview I was asked deeply personal questions as well as general questions about what will make me a good barrister. The panel consisted of two barristers and one senior judge.
‘Kent Law School helped me in understanding why I am fit for the role of a barrister. I could confidently answer that I would be a good barrister because of my skills in advocacy which I practiced in the Mock Trial Advocacy module and through mooting throughout my three years. I was able to confidently answer the questions even though they were intense at times because I have continuously done that at Law School by viewing my studies from a critical viewpoint.’
Ufnaan said it was the experience of completing her first mini-pupillage that convinced her she wanted to become a barrister. She said: ‘When I compared it to my volunteering experience at a law firm, I quickly realised being a barrister appealed to me more. I like advocacy and actively voicing my clients wishes to a court. I chose to be a barrister focusing on family law. I also like the flexibility that comes with being a barrister that I would never get from working nine-to-five as a solicitor.’
Ufnaan hopes that through becoming a barrister, she will be an inspiration for her community: ‘By doing the best job I can I hope to show Muslim girls that they can also succeed in this profession and should not be deterred from pursuing this passion.’
And finally, we asked Ufnaan to share her top tips for fellow aspiring barristers:
- Network: ‘Networking helped me gain so many opportunities which would have been incredibly long and difficult to gain through sending applications. Kent Law School holds an excellent array of insight events, panel discussions, law dinners and much more. I would advise you actively go to these events and speak to barristers. You will be surprised by how helpful barristers can be when you ask for help
- Be confident: ‘Being a barrister involves dealing with different people all the time. Whether it is judges, opposing counsel or clients, it is your duty to effectively convey your message across to these people. Being confident is essential for your delivery and I believe this skill will greatly improve your chances of success in this profession. Whether it is speaking to barristers about opportunities at networking events, scholarship interviews or in court, confidence is key.’